VANSUSTRAIN – Johnson! My office — now!
(See, here is where you should be thinking about that song, “Dueling Banjos.” Remember? We JUST finished talking about it!)
BRICK – Don’t talk Johnson. Just sit and shut it!
VANSUSTRAIN – You’re to close to this one. I’m taking you off it.
BRICK – It’s the fed’s case now. Leave it alone!
VANSUSTRAIN – Internal Affairs was in my office this morning. Is there anything I need to know?
BRICK – There’s a rat in the house, Johnson. Watch your ass!
(OK, I feel that there may be some people that don’t see where I’m going with this. And I know what you’re thinking “Well, that’s not new J’Mel.” Well, fair enough. Fair enough. The difference is, this time anyway, I may be hitting you with some ideas you may not be fully aware of. See, when I was growing up and cop shows weren’t all fake cookie-cutter procedurals, there was always an angry black police captain to keep the hotshot cops in line through constant yelling and empty yet fairly violent threats. Cop shows these days, well, everyone is friendly and melancholy. Hell, most of them aren’t even cops. There are seven shows about scientists that act like cops and hardly any cop shows left. Anyway...)
VANSUSTRAIN – Why is my top-secret witness on the front page of the evening paper? Is that top secret?
BRICK – Is this what you call low-profile? What are you, retarded?
VANSUSTRAIN – If I find out you’re going after Ortega, I swear to God, Johnson, I’ll shoot you myself!
BRICK – If you go after Salazaar without proof, and he walks, I’m gonna have your shield for breakfast.
VANSUSTRAIN – The last thing I need to worry about is you totaling another department vehicle! I got brass so far up my ass right now, I’m shitting Herb Alpert’s greatest hits!
BRICK – What the hell were you thinking, Johnson? They train people for this sort of situation! Maybe you’ve heard of them? They’re called the bomb squad!
BOTH – You thought you’d just waltz in there and diffuse the situation on your own and save the day? You destroyed three city blocks, you moron! You better pray to whoever it is you pray to that nobody got hurt, because you’re not just gonna walk away from this one.
(All right, here is the big finish — the prestige. You got the banjos going at full tilt boogie and you got angry black police captains yelling at the detective simultaneously. The entire process is so intense that the audience begins to applaud before the speeches are even finished! This is a thing of beauty, people. I only hope that appreciate that I’m giving it to you FOR FREE. Now, do yourself a favor and go watch Starsky and Hutch. No, not the shitty movie. It was a television series first. You know, I never thought I’d ever be the guy that talked about how god things used to be...but they used to be so much better...)
BOTH – Don’t you walk away from me when I’m talking to you! The only reason your sorry ass has a job is because somehow, even after the death of your partner, and even after your wife left you, you still get results! Now sober up, stop feeling sorry for yourself, and go get Caldaron!
VANSUSTRAIN – Now get out there and do what you do best, you honky bastard. Do it the way you used to, in the good old days — but don’t tell me what you’re gonna do! I’m gonna be too busy keeping the feds off of your lily-white ass! And no matter what happens, don’t mention me because I’m gonna deny the hell out of it and put you in jail myself if I have to!
(...and, at the exact same time...)
BRICK – I don’t care what you do and I don’t care how you do it, I just know you better go out there and explode some heads! The mayor is already gonna murder us both when this is all done, so get those bastards and make it stick- and I don’t mean arrests! Were beyond that now! Now, go fight some crime you bastard!
(Yeah. You know what? People give me crap over my love of old popular culture but I don’t care. It’s the little things, folks. The small pieces of your past that you can go to and smile about. For me, it’s the television I shared with my ma while growing up. McCloud, The Night Stalker, St. Elsewhere. The good stuff. What do you have? American Idol? Will you really look back and remember how much you loved seeing some random fat guy singing Ronnie Milsap songs on the Karaoke show? Doubtful. But if you do? If you do, good for you.
Stories by J’mel Davidson appear in every issue of Birmingham Weekly. Write to email@example.com.